What do you call 96 Israeli fighters plus a squadron of UAVs up against 100 Syrian fighters with 19 surface-air missiles? A Turkey Shoot. At least that’s what the match-up in Bekaa Valley became known as.
Israel has always gone head to head with the countries around them. This was especially true from 1960-1980. Battles in Egypt did not go well, resulting in the Israel Air Force losing many fighters to surface-to-air missiles.
In 1982, Israel attacked Syria taking out 17 of their surface-to-air missiles in two hours. However, the victory was short-lived.
Syria chose to intercept the 96 F-15s, F-16s, and F-4s with 100 MiGs. The Israelis did have an E-2C Hawkeye airborne warning and control aircraft that saw the MiGs and gave the IAF instructions.
The IAF, who were more experienced, fired Sidewinder heat-seeking and Sparrow radar-guided missiles. They were able to take out 29 Syrian Air Force Fighters.
IAF had two final targets that they did not get the first time. They made a second attempt on June 10. Syria was ready, sending up the majority of its air force.
But Israel was able to take out 35 Syrian fighters, while the IAF did not lose any planes. It was a thrilling victory for the IAF due to their great training and years of fighting experience.
However, Syria did make a few missteps that enabled the IAF victory. The IAF was jamming their ground control communications, so they could not get their pilots adequate instructions.
Syrian Strategy Criticism
A Military Observer told Air Power Journal, ” I watched a group of Syrian fighter planes fly figure-eights. They just flew around and around and obviously had no idea what to do next.”
U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Leonard Perroots said, “The Syrians used mobile missiles in a fixed configuration; they put the radars in the valley instead of the hills because they didn’t want to dig latrines–seriously.”
Before the conflict was over in July 1982, Syria lost 87 or so fighters to Israel’s 2.